Healthy Fast Food Options

Healthy Fast Food Options and Choices

For most people, "Healthy Fast Food" is an oxymoron. If you are trying to eat healthy, one of the most highly suggested and obvious recommendations is to stay away from fast food restaurants. In theory, this is a pretty easy task. However, with our extremely fast-paced lifestyles, often times we have no choice but to take the fast and easy route to our next meal. Taking such a route doesn't necessarily mean you have to compromise your health, but rather, it holds you more accountable for the choices that you make in such scenarios.

If you happen to find yourself crunched on time and have no choice but to go to a fast food restaurant, here are some of our suggestions to stay on the right path.

1. Choose Your Restaurant Wisely

Not all fast food restaurants are completely bad for you. If you have to decide between one restaurant or another, choose the lesser of the evils. Restaurants like Burger King and Chipotle may both be considered "Fast Food" but they are in no way created equal. Sure, Burger King may have a few healthy options (mainly their salads) but let's be honest, when you submerge yourself in an environment with all the unhealthy goodness that are french fries, onion rings, and burgers it is much harder to choose...  a salad. When there is that rumbling in our tummy it is almost impossible to ignore that little devil on our shoulder in the form of temptation, so it is best to just avoid the situation in the first place if possible.

Men's Health put together a awesome rating system as part of their "Eat This, Not That" Campaign. They have done a great job at rating various restaurant chains and giving them a letter grade from the best (A) to the worst (F). It's like school all over again... but for food!

Check out their List of 82 Restaurants Chains: HERE

Some of my favorite "fast" restaurants are: Chipotle, Panera, Chick-Fil-A, Jimmy Johns (Great Unwiches and Whole Wheat Sandwiches), Subway.

 

2. Order Carefully

Look, we've done it before. We try to eat as healthy as possible but when you have no choice and there isn't a "lesser evil" fast food restaurant for miles it is easy to just say "well, I'm already here. Might as well just get a burger and fries. WHEN IN ROME!" Right? ... Wrong! Most Fast Food restaurants have picked up on the idea that people want healthier choices. It may not be brightly advertised and probably much more expensive than the unhealthy choices but there are at least some sort of fruit, salad, wrap, or whole wheat bread sandwich you can get in place of a fat, greasy, burger and fries. If they don't have anything healthier for you just make sure to stay away from anything fried or has excessive sugar in it. Unfortunately, that would include fries and that bubbly soda washes everything down so deliciously. Opt for a bottled water instead. If they don't have fruit or vegetables for you to munch on as sides, just forego the sides all together. Would you rather have a small portion of extremely unhealthy foods that will be on your conscience for the next day or two... or would you rather wait a few hours until you have better options and have a LARGE portion of something yummy and healthy and not have to pay for it in the future?

 

Healthy Fast Food Choices Mcdonald salad
Here are some McDonald's salad options

 

3. Out With The Bad

Many people think that by choosing to eat a salad, they are being healthy. While it is a much better option than anything deep fried- if you are going to smother it in other kinds of fats, it really doesn't help. Order your food with the dressing or any kind of sauces that might come on it on the side or with none at all. If the restaurant you're at happens to offer a variety of dressings to choose from, opt for the healthier choice such as the vinaigrette instead of the ranch. If there aren't any healthy options for dressings, see if the restaurant has any olive oil and vinegar or lemons and limes on hand and use that for your dressing.

Dipping sauces are another sneaky way foods can turn on you. They may be super tasty and often times they are what gives the specific foods at these establishments their flavors but try to eliminate fatty sauces as much as possible, especially ones that use mayonnaise for a base. If you need that little bit of flavor, add a touch of ketchup and mustard to make your taste buds happy. I also really like adding pepper. It is a great way to add that little "umph" to your foods.

Healthy Fast Food Options Apple Walnut Salad

 

 

4. Control Your Portions

MODERATION is key! We actually love Chipotle. It is actually one of the few fast food restaurants that really care about where their food comes from. They pride themselves on this so much that they even have a section dedicated to "Food with Integrity" on their website (Click here to learn more about it). However, the thing with Chipotle is they have larger-than-life portions which makes it difficult to prevent yourself from over-eating. Our tip with Chipotle or restaurants with large portions is to always determine how much you want to should eat before starting to eat. If you have a burrito, cut it in half. If you have a burrito bowl, get yours to-go and pour your serving size into the to-go lid using that as your serving dish. When you're done, you can save the rest for later. If you have a salad, well go ahead and just eat it. Salads are our friends!

 

Healthy Fast Food Portion Size Chart

 

These tips may seem pretty obvious, but when we're starving and end up in front of a cashier in a Fast Food restaurant it is pretty hard to make the right choices. Hopefully, these tips will help you make the right Healthy Fast Food Choices the next time you find yourself in a sticky scenario.

If you have any pointers of your own, we'd love to hear it! Leave a comment below or e-mail us at info@mefirstliving.com.

Cheers!